Entrepreneurs’ Library Stories
We all think we know that libraries are quiet and peaceful places, home to books for readers of all ages.
But over the past two decades, these sanctuaries have been used for much more than just perusing through volumes of publications. But many entrepreneurs have discovered the library to be their “secret” office space to focus their business plans, find answers, and take their idea to the next level.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs have found their libraries to be exactly the place they needed to help jumpstart their business creativity. Russell Clifton, founder of Ruk-Bug, an all-terrain pushchair company, tells a wonderful story about how working with his librarians helped him take his idea to market. “At the beginning, I accessed as much information as I could as the library was a full jug and I was an empty glass. I used the information in the library to fill my knowledge in terms of the market, how to go about taking things to market, but mostly for making contacts with people through Manchester Inventors Group. I was looking for anything and everything depending on what I needed at the time; marketing, market research, books on manufacturing, trade magazines on PR’s, literally anything I could get my hands on.”
Because library services are supported by local Councils, the resources that are available to every entrepreneur and small business person are available to all. It’s even more powerful when the local libraries partner with the British Library’s 13 National Business and IP Network Centres around the UK to increase your chances of business success. Mr. Clifton goes on to say that “the Business & IP Centre saved me thousands.” Likewise, Imran Meza and Taz Basunia talk about how they were “[J]ust fascinated by how much information was here and it was all free”. They had spotted a gap in the market for a new luxury brand and founded Jealous, a premium confectionery company aimed at grown-ups as opposed to children. Their mission was to bring creditability back to candy. It started for them in the Centre where they were able to freely access reports on their market, gain advice on how to protect their brand and meet other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Metropolitan areas often have branch libraries in every neighborhood, and even multiple library systems, which means that you have your choice of what works for you. Every library is a bit different so do a tiny bit of research before committing. Hours of operation vary. Look for a library that suits your work desired work schedule. It’s nice to get a boost now and again. Are their nice coffee shops nearby or inside? Do you need expert assistance or special resources? Larger libraries are more likely to specialized collections, or even business librarians that work specifically with entrepreneurs and freelancers.
Award winning entrepreneur, Dana Elemera, talks about how she cornered the market by supplying Argan oil, a nutritive anti-oxidant, to food and cosmetics businesses. In 2012, Dana founded Arganic. She attended our Intellectual Property workshop and researched her business plan, funding and competition applications at the Centre. “If I hadn't have gone to the intellectual property course I wouldn't have even thought about trademarking my business name.” She has since won the Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award and successfully stopped other businesses from stealing her brand.
One final tip for entrepreneurs in libraries: Get to Know the Staff. If you’re going to be a regular, introduce yourself to the staff! Don’t be afraid to occasionally chat with them about what you’re working on, especially the librarians at the reference desk. Many of them are regularly reviewing potential library resources and collections, and will be glad to put aside items that may be useful for you. The best thing, though, is that the your new “home” office will feel a lot more cozy and welcoming if you’re greeted by name when you enter.